Or, finding your “best” buy
When I was a kid, I had hundreds of hidden picture books. I was part of the generation that was raised on Highlights Magazine, I Spy, and those crazy optical illusion photos where you had to strain your eyes a lot. They all had their merits, but my favorite books from that era were the Where’s Waldo series.
The rules are simple: Find Waldo. Once you find Waldo, you win! But the books didn’t make it easy; they’d throw in a whole bunch of distractions and tricks to make it more difficult for you to find Waldo.
Where’s Waldo is a really fun game to play, but when you want to buy something quickly, this isn’t what you want to see:
You want your results fast, to cut through the noise, and find the exact thing that fits your needs.
During my team’s research of Best Buy’s website, this theme kept emerging.
For my third project in General Assembly’s UXDI program, I worked in a team of four to research and evaluate Best Buy’s mobile and desktop websites to build a comprehensive understanding of how they could be improved. After our research, we split up to synthesize our results and design a new experience for Best Buy customers.
Contextual Inquiry, Screener Survey, Competitive/Comparative Analysis, Heuristic Evaluation, Usability Testing, User Flows, Sitemaps, Card Sorting, Persona, User Journey, Redesigned Desktop/Mobile Screens, Specification Document, 7 Minute Presentation
Google Forms, Optimal Sort, Sketch, InVision, Keynote
What’s the Problem?
We began our project by analyzing companies that compete in similar and tangential product spaces as Best Buy. We analyzed 12 different companies to see where Best Buy stood relative to its peers.
We found that compared to other companies, Best Buy has excellent customer service, an expansive inventory of items, and many great options for shoppers––all competitive advantages it could leverage in store and online.
We continued our analysis through heuristic evaluation––a method that identifies usability problems by judging an interface based on recognized usability principles. We looked at 10 heuristics and assigned numerical values to each category:
Best Buy meets a lot of best practices, but it’s not without its problems. Delight and Findability were two areas in particular that Best Buy could improve in––something that became apparent in our research.
Contextual Inquiry & Usability Testing
We decided to examine both the in store and online shopping experiences through contextual inquiry and usability testing. We started with contextual inquiry––a method where a researcher follows a participant shopping and makes observations as that participant moves throughout the store.
We found that our participants had issues finding and comparing items in store. Some users couldn’t even find what they came to buy and left the store frustrated. For the users that did find what they were looking for, it was difficult for them to evaluate if it was their “best” buy; items looked too similar and their differences weren’t made clear.
The same problems occurred on Best Buy’s website as well: it’s difficult to cut through the noise of the online store to find what you’re looking for and to compare it to alternatives.
“So many things are going on…do those all really need to be there?”
“The Best Buy website has too much stuff on it. It’s not simple for me to find and purchase the things I want.”
“I would likely never use Best Buy’s website and mobile site due to its bad design.”
Best Buy’s website is full of information, advertisements, and up-sells that make it complicated for users to navigate to the product they want and evaluate it compared to other options. Users had issues finding products and comparing those products to other options.
When the team split up to design, I focused on these two aspects of their website: Find and Compare.
Who Did I Design For?
I synthesized the results from our team’s research to create Keith, a production manager that wants to find products quickly and easily. He likes to make sure he’s getting the best value from his purchase, not just from a price perspective, but from a features perspective as well. He wants to make sure his money is being well spent compared to the other products he could buy.
I also created a User Journey for Keith’s current BestBuy.com experience:
With a greater understanding of who I was designing for, I created a problem statement to address Keith’s needs:
Best Buy has a wide selection of items at a variety of price points to fulfill every shopper’s needs.
Keith wants to buy the right product for his needs, but he can’t easily find and compare similar products to make his choice given the volume of information present and its organization.
How might we find a way to show the price and feature differences between products, so Keith can feel confident with his selection?
The goal was to give Keith the tools to find what he wants and compare it to alternatives, so he can feel like he’s making his “best” buy.
What’s the Solution?
I performed three rounds of design studio where I focused on specific topics:
Search (the idea of browsing / looking for information)
Navigation (the idea of moving around Best Buy’s website)
Compare (the idea of looking at multiple products to make a choice)
Influenced by my design studio, I revised multiple pages on Best Buy’s website to make it easier for someone like Keith to find and compare items.
I also revised Best Buy’s current Add to Compare feature so that users could more directly compare items. In its current form, Add to Compare requires users to select items without necessarily knowing if they’re really making accurate comparisons. With my solution, Best Buy would suggest options for users that were similar to the product they were trying to compare to, and would also be able to sort their results to their specific needs.
My solutions also extended to mobile, reimagining the compare feature on a smaller screen:
How did it perform?
Based on 9 usability sessions across two rounds of iteration, users were able to find products, compare them, and make a more informed decision on what to purchase. Here’s what they had to say:
“This made me feel more comfy shopping. I felt less nervous. I felt better when all the comparisons were in one spot.”
“Now that I can compare online, I see myself doing so online more instead of just in store.”
“This makes it a lot easier to shop.”
I had succeeded in cutting through the noise of the online store to get people to their products more quickly and confidently.
You can click around the final prototype here: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/KXN0LK04V9W
Or, you can watch a video of the prototype here:
To take my solution to the next stage, I would like to bring my wireframes to high fidelity and usability test my designs further.
It was great to work in a team for the first part of the project, and their absence was definitely felt for the second half of the assignment. It was so much better working collaboratively with a team then going solo, and I really missed their input on my ideas (and contributing to theirs).
On the plus side, it was really rewarding to create a solution to a problem on my own. I got to navigate almost all of the UX process solo and learn my strengths and weaknesses along the way. Best of all, I helped people find their products more easily and make an informed, educated decision.